True Detective, I'm sorry that at minute 46 of the episode, "Down Will Come," I thought to myself, ugh this episode is sooooo boring. It just felt like nothing had happened the entire time, and I hate slow filler episodes like that. Well, I take that back, because the last 10 minutes moved so fast I forgot to breathe. After building up momentum throughout the episode, True Detective ends with a massive shootout in the streets of Vinci. It is so crazy and intense, I'm going to state for the record that this shootout is a far better scene than Season 1's long, tracking shot, by far. True Detective, you've just outdone yourself.
If you need a quick refresher on that tracking shot — which you might, it was a year ago, after all — it was a six-minute long shot, that was only one shot. The camera never cut away from the action as we followed Rust Cohle in and out of houses during a raid gone wrong. You might not even realize it's a single shot until you're well into the scene, and after that, with each passing second it becomes more and more impressive. It's not easy to accomplish any one action in a single shot, let alone a single take, so the fact that Rust weaves in and out through houses, interacting with people and running up and down the street is damn impressive. It's clearly still a scene we're talking about a season later.
You can check the clip out here. This tracking scene takes place in True Detective Season 1's fourth episode. "Down Will Come" is Season 2's fourth episode, so no, I don't think that's any sort of coincidence. From here on out, I guess we can look forward to something huge happening in the fourth episode of every True Detective season.
So why is this shootout so much better, and more impressive, than that tracking shot? Well, I mean, did you see what was happening? Not only was it a firefight between close to two dozen people, but the action moved from location to location, taking place in buildings, behind cars, even through a bus. Then, there were explosions, followed by a car crash. The scene wasn't even really just about our three detectives trying to take down some Vinci criminals, but these three detectives against the city of Vinci itself.
When I say I didn't breathe for 10 minutes, that's true (but OK, fine, also a hyperbole). The action escalated with each passing second — that tracking shot didn't really climax to anything, other than just Rust doing his thing, running around.
But here there were moments where I was convinced Ray was a goner, seeing as how he had just give a cherished memento to his son, and that's the tell tale sign that someone is going to die by episode's end. Then, Paul risked his life — a few times — after just learning that he was going to be a dad and popping the question to his ex. On top of those two, we had Ani, who was forced to revisit her mother's life and death this episode, along with learning that she has a knife (and is obsessed with knives) because the blade was her mother's. And after running out of bullets, that becomes her last remaining weapon.
Those stakes are ridiculously high. I assumed we'd be saying goodbye to someone before the end of the battle, if only because it had been set up prior. Thankfully, all our detectives live to see another day in Vinci, though the repercussions from this firefight will no doubt carry on throughout the rest of the season.
I'm already looking forward to whatever rooftop-running, base-jumping, sword-fighting, lightsaber battle, straight-up melee True Detective will cook up for Season 3.
Images: Lacey Terrel/HBO; truedetectiveshow/Tumblr